California Joy Weekend | Inspiration Sun

On the last weekend of July, the California disciples from San
Francisco and Los Angeles traveled to San Diego to put on the 24th
annual Self-Transcendence Swim&Run. The event first started back in
1984, and has become a popular yearly standard among local
triathletes, biathletes, and fitness freaks alike, of which there are
many to be found in San Diego.

Viddyut and I drove down from San Francisco on Saturday morning,
weaving our way through the nightmarish freeways of LA and the
quasi-desert landscape of southern California, and arrived 10 hours
later, just in time for the lavish dinner at Jyoti-Bihanga Restaurant.
Everyone was in a jovial mood, and we finished the evening off
playing the World Harmony Run Board Game in which the idea is to work
together, harmoniously, to navigate around the United States. This is
a game that no one can win (what kind of game is that!), but the
competition was still thick and fast. Everyone retired afterwards, to
get some much needed sleep before the early rise for the race set-up
the following morning.

The crew arrived on the beach at about 4:30 a.m. to start preparing
the course and set up the race. The race starts at La Jolla Cove with
a 1-mile swim to the adjacent La Jolla Shores, where the competitors
start the 10K run along the beach which is based around a 1-mile loop.
The conditions for race day were ideal. The sea was very still and it
was lightly overcast.

The set-up went smoothly under the watchful eye of Race Director
Vasudha. According to some of the San Diego boys this hasn't always
been the case. Manorath, who manages the run course set-up, said, "In
the beginning there always seemed to be a problem but we have not had
a problem in a dozen years. Over the years it seems to get easier".
When Vasudha was asked what she has learnt over the years of putting
on the Swim&Run, she said "I have learned to see through the eyes of
the athlete. At every moment, I try to be aware of what the athlete
might need or want; and then, of course, we all endeavor to meet that
need. Also, I have really come to appreciate how important it is for
us to manifest in this way. I really believe that at the Sri Chinmoy
Marathon Team races, athletes--and selfless servers too--get an
experience that they do not get anywhere else. I have really come to
value that opportunity."

Not all the disciples just came to help; some came to race! Venu, from
the San Francisco Centre, has participated, amazingly, in 21 out of
the 24 years of the race's history. Over time he has developed a good
natured rivalry with Sujantra from San Diego. Venu wasn't feeling well
leading up to the race, but managed to be ahead at the end of the
swim. However Sujantra passed him on the run. In recent times Sujantra
seems to have have the upper hand in the rivalry, but Venu is not
deterred and will no doubt be back next year ready to take it to

This year there were approximately 100 competitors in the race, which
is significantly down from previous years. Other local triathlons and
biathlons have experienced similar drops in participation this year,
but nobody is quite sure of the reason. Some say that in a tough
economy people curtail their hobbies and recreation events. Others
speculate that a recent shark attack off the San Diego coast has kept
some potential participants out of the water.

The awards for the Swim&Run have their own unique character. It's not
bike pumps and speedos! The winner gets a giant pie, made by Pie
Master Mahiyan, as well as a large basket of assorted food and gifts,
courtesy of Jyoti-Bihanga. Other top finishers receive similar but
smaller pies and gifts.

When Pie Master Mahiyan was asked about his sumptuous pies and their
traditional place in Self-Transcendence Swim&Run, he revealed, "My
mother taught me how to make apple pie when I was a kid. Many years
ago we had an 18-mile race up in Portland, Oregon. There were many
disciples there. They gave pies for the prize and I thought that was
so great! We have made pies for our races ever since."

After the race was finished and the prizes were given and the
equipment put away, the disciples had a picnic lunch where we played
games, swam, hung out and enjoyed the sun and water. The race was, as
usual, a success with many happy faces. Even though the turnout this
year was lower than usual, everybody seemed to have a great time.

By James Doran

Inspiration Sun Edition 6